Climate change and human trafficking: an investigation into how climate change and natural disasters increase the risk of human trafficking and how it can be intercepted in the future

University essay from Lunds universitet/LUCSUS

Abstract: Human trafficking is an exploitative crime occurring worldwide. According to the International Organization on Migration (IOM), research on human trafficking’s underlying causes is lacking; particularly the role of climate change and natural disasters. Environmentally displaced persons (EDPs) are vulnerable to human trafficking, but this connection is not widely understood. In order to contribute to the understanding of and solutions to the problem, I conducted a systematic literature review and a document review of protocols for disaster response. From the literature review, there were two clear connections: (1) natural disasters increasing due to climate change lead to human displacement, and (2) EDPs are more vulnerable to human trafficking. The connection between 1 and 2, however, was seriously underdeveloped.Furthermore, the document review exposed a lack of measures in place to intercept human trafficking. To analyze these gaps, I use the environmental justice framework in order to conceptualize the reasons why certain displaced populations become vulnerable to human trafficking. My aim is to identify which injustices need to be addressed in order to prevent EDPs from facing a further risk of human trafficking. My research reveals the lack of legal protection for EDPs, how their socioeconomic status greatly affects their risk, and the general lack of prevention and protection in disaster response protocols to handle their exposure to human trafficking. To address these injustices, I highlight the importance of further research and interdisciplinary action to intercept human trafficking risk in the face of future natural disasters. Additionally, I provide a practical recommendation using Emergency Response Planning (ERP), urging countries and aid organizations to have precautionary plans in place for future disasters. Human trafficking is a serious threat to human security that is not to be taken lightly. With this in mind, I urge the importance of future research and action taken to reduce the incidences of trafficking after natural disasters.

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